Thanks to its lower cost of living, attractive climate, and rich cultural heritage, Thailand is a popular destination for relocation for expats and business travelers. The Thai government offers a multitude of potential types of visas through which international citizens can apply for residence.
Whether you are looking for a short stay or to move on a more permanent basis, this guide to relocating to Thailand will give you a better understanding of the process of obtaining a Thai visa.
Short-term visas in Thailand
Stay in Thailand as a tourist
Thailand is well known as one of the main tourist hubs in Southeast Asia. As such, tourism represents a significant part of the Thai economy. This is made quite easy by the fact that citizens of 57 countries can currently visit the country through Thailand’s visa exemptions for tourism. This allows citizens of recognized countries to stay up to 30 days visa-free in Thailand.
If the purpose of your journey is tourism, then it is possible to apply for a Visa on arrival at the Thai border. This makes travel to Thailand more convenient, as it eliminates the need to apply for and obtain a visa before leaving your country of provenance.
The tourist visa (TR) allows you to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension. It is important to note, however, that your activities in Thailand must adhere to what is allowed through the visa. It is not possible to work or sell any services or goods while in Thailand on a tourist visa, or perform any work related to the fields of journalism and research.
How to conduct short-term business activities in Thailand
Despite its reputation for tourism, Thailand’s strategic proximity to other economic centers in the region has increased appeal for foreigners wishing to visit for business and investment purposes. There are several Non-immigrant business visas available if you are seeking a short-term stay in Thailand for work purposes:
- Business visa: Allows for short-term work or teaching opportunities in Thailand.
- Investment visa: Allows short-term investment activities and work on investment projects approved by the Thai Board of Investors (BOI).
- Business-approved visa: Allows certain government-approved Thai companies to directly apply to sponsor the short-term stay of a potential foreign employee.
Short-term visas generally only allow for one entry into the country with a specific allotted amount of days for which a foreigner can stay. However, it is common for business travelers to require more flexibility in terms of entry permissions to allow back-and-forth travel. For more details, take a look at this page on multiple entry visas in Thailand.
Non-immigrant (O) Visas in Thailand
If the purpose of a short-term stay in Thailand does not fall under either the tourist or business categories, then there are also three other visa types available for 90-day stay periods. These are referred to as non-immigrant (O) visas:
- Spouse/family visa: allows you to stay with a Thai spouse or family member
- Retirement visa: Allows for individuals over the age of 50 to stay in Thailand
- Volunteer visa: allows you to perform short-term unpaid volunteer work in Thailand
Each short-term visa in Thailand comes with specific conditions and requirements, especially if the short stay involves business activities. Emerhub’s advisors can assist you with this process and all the next steps of your stay, such as acquiring a work permit and identifying approved Thai employers.
Long-term residence (LTR) Visas in Thailand
How do I relocate to Thailand to work?
Long-term residence (LTR) visas in Thailand are generally available for 5 to 10-year periods. If you intend to relocate to Thailand for work, the process is stricter than for the short-term business visa. Only two specific categories of workers can apply for a Thai LTR, each with distinct requirements:
|Occupation must fall under specific categories of targeted professions.
|Must work remotely for a company established outside of Thailand
|Applicant must have a Master’s degree and relevant work experience.
|Employer must be well-established overseas
|Applicant must work for a BOI-endorsed company in Thailand.
|Must meet specific income thresholds
Keep in mind that if your business activities in Thailand are investment-based, then you might be eligible to apply for the wealthy global citizen LTR visa. The criteria for consideration of a foreign investor pertain to significant personal assets and investments in the Thai market.
Retiring in Thailand
If you are above the age of 50 and receiving a pension, then Thailand could be an appealing place for you to relocate to for retirement. The wealthy pensioner LTR visa offers retirees an initial stay of 10 years, with the possibility of 5-year extensions, so long as the requirements are met.
The application requirements for this type of LTR visa mainly come down to meeting pension or passive income requirements. It also offers the unique opportunity to supplement income gaps through investments in Thailand.
It is important to note, however, that by relocating to Thailand through the wealthy pensioner LTR visa, you cannot take part in salaried activities or apply for a work permit. You must therefore limit your occupations to hobbies or volunteering.
Move to Thailand to be with your family
Long-term residence in Thailand is possible for spouses of a Thai citizen, however, the process is more complex than with LTR visas. To apply for the marriage visa, you must first enter Thailand legally through the aforementioned 90-day (O) visa. Once you are in Thailand you must ensure that your marriage to a Thai spouse is registered within the 90-day window.
In the final 30 days of your (O) visa, if you are married and meet income requirements, then you are allowed to apply for a one-year extension of the marriage visa. As long as you are married, it is then possible to renew this visa every year. Upon receiving the extended marriage visa, you also become eligible to work in Thailand.
For other LTR visa holders, it is possible to bring in up to 4 legal dependents into Thailand through a dependent visa, so long as they are below the age of 20 or your legal spouse. Keep in mind that the validity of their stay is entirely dependent on you holding an active LTR visa.
Thai visa application process
When considering applying for either the short-term or LTR visas, you must consider the specific requirements of each. Visa-specific requirements are usually evaluated on a case-by-case basis, however, some key factors will be taken into consideration for almost every type of visa application:
- A passport from your country of nationality that is valid for a minimum of 6 months from arrival in Thailand
- Sufficient Income or assets to support yourself
- A clean criminal record check
- Valid and sufficient Health insurance or health certificate
Thai initiatives for simplifying the visa process
The Thai government has put in place some important ongoing measures and plans to facilitate visa acquisition and relocation of foreigners. The main focus of these initiatives is to attract talent, encourage foreign investment, and boost the country’s economy.
- Streamlining procedures through online visa applications, reduced processing time, and centralized platforms focused on user experience.
- Relaxation of visa measures through frequent visa category assessments, expanded validity periods, and increased availability of multiple entry visas.
- Targeting specific demographics by offering programs for skilled professionals, retirees and wealthy individuals, and foreign investors
- Collaboration and regional integration with neighboring countries to encourage shared talent in the ASEAN economic community.
Emerhub’s team of experts is well-versed in the different types of Thai visas and what requirements need to be met. Schedule a consultation with the form below and we’ll put you in touch with an advisor who will help plan your relocation according to your specific situation and needs.